The Etiquetteist doesn’t spend much time on chat boards, but this query posed last week by Reddit user ThunderstruckPC (and re-shared by the Caddie Network on Twitter) caught our eye.
Your question is a good one, Thunderstruck, and if you’ll entertain me, I’ll start with a few words from Ben Hogan, who observed, “I have always contended that golf is one game and putting is another.” However you feel about the Hawk’s assertion, we can probably all agree that golf and miniature golf are not the same.
The former is a game of a lifetime. The latter is a game largely designed for children 12 and under, and others who act (no judgment here!) as if they’re of that age. Maybe you’ve noticed all the clowns’ noses? If mini golf were meant to be taken seriously, they would have done away with those things years ago.
By bringing your own putter — an $8,000 custom Scotty Cameron, I presume? — to a Putt-Putt course, you are injecting a level of gravity and purpose into a pursuit that is intended to be frivolous good fun, and in doing so, you are announcing yourself as ridiculous. Bad form? Not if you’re a hyper-competitive third grader, but otherwise, yes.
In your defense, there are those who might point to bowlers who bring their own balls to the local alley and escape derision. But that’s not a good comparison. The local alley is still an alley, just like the alleys used in bowling tournaments (yes, the slickness of the conditions might be different, but everything else, from the dimensions of the playing field to the scorekeeping, is the same). Those bowlers, in other words, are still bowling. You, on the other hand, trying to knock a ball through a windmill, are not playing golf, no matter how sophisticated the stick you wield.
There’s a better comparison for what you’re doing when you bring your own putter to a mini-golf course. Your actions are more akin to showing up to a backyard barbecue with a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. You are suggesting to those around you that you are somehow above the general proceedings, too cultured and deserving to wash down your burger with a Bud Light. You are acting the self-serious snob, unable or unwilling to mingle with the masses.
Finally, part of the challenge — and charm — of miniature golf is navigating the rumpled or worn-down turf with whatever wand is made available to you. Should you and only you be afforded the advantage of adjustable weights, a polymer insert and patina finish?